Nursing Informatics Discussion Paper

Nursing Informatics Discussion Paper

Nursing Informatics Discussion Paper

Nursing Informatics

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Effective delivery of healthcare services requires compliance to set standards, especially quality standards. The enactment of the Affordable Care Act and the reforms in the healthcare industry focus on enhancing not just access to affordable but also quality care based on international best practices and parameters. The US healthcare system is founded on quality standards that leverage health information technology (HIT) like the use of electronic health records (EHRs) system and informatics (Jen et al., 2022). The purpose of this paper is to explore and discuss the importance of health information technology standards in the delivery of health care in the United States.

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Top Five Reasons for the Importance of Standards in the U.S. Health Care System

Standards are a vital component of any effective healthcare system. The first reason for the vital role of standards is to enhance and attain interoperability or seamless sharing of health information among providers, healthcare organizations, and between patients and their medical teams or physicians. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) (2023) has developed the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) as the standard set of health data classes. The set comprises constituent data elements that include clinical notes, allergies and intolerances, laboratory test results, and medications. The core purpose of this data set at the national level is to have interoperable health information sharing among providers and facilities.

The second vital reason for healthcare standards is the attainment of an integral healthcare information system through effective standardization. While information technology plays a critical role in helping to enhance health outcomes and decision-making at the care point and planning, it requires effective standardization to make it responsive to patient and provider needs (Jen et al., 2022). The integration of standards is a core aspect of ensuring that all stakeholders attain effective communication based on their needs. Thirdly, health information technology standards are vital for better and directed communication among the different actors in the sector, from physicians to pharmacists and patients. As medical and healthcare facilities across the nation continue to modernize, they require robust and responsive healthcare IT support to improve access and affordability (Keshta et al., 2021). These standards ensure that healthcare providers offer the best interventions and leverage evidence-based practice strategies.

The fourth reason is that health IT standards will improve the quality of care by mitigating any errors that arise due to poor communication or interpretation of health information. For one, patients undoubtedly benefit when they are confident that their selected healthcare providers have immediate access to their health records and information, irrespective of where they seek treatment. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2019), health IT standards are part of the nation’s strategy to ensure that information technology works in health care, especially in primary care settings. Through these standards, providers can manage and use health information to improve patient safety and deliver patient-centered care. Fifthly, standards are vital as they provide guidelines that improve healthcare delivery efficiencies (Claxton et al., 2019). These include improving care coordination and scheduling of care and reducing administrative bureaucracy leading to reduced cost of care. The implication is that these standards help healthcare organizations and patients to attain meaningful use as advanced by federal agencies, especially ONC.

Vital HIT Standards & Influence on Organization

Health Level Seven (HL7) is one of the most essential health information technology (HIT) standards and is accredited by the American National Standards Initiative (ANSI). HL7 standard is the electronic data exchange in healthcare protocol and provides the backbone of electronic health records (EHRs) systems for many organizations. As a message protocol, the standard allows increased interoperability or sharing of patient health information, financial and clinical data among compatible programs (Sutton et al., 2020). While there are different standard message protocols, HL7 is unique in several ways. Firstly, it is not a general standard but is only meant for healthcare data. Secondly, it defines a form for data that is user-readable implying that even a patient can evaluate the data stream and comprehend it or most of it. Thirdly, HL7 is very flexible and used across different health organizations. Again, HL7 deals with the exchange of medical data between disparate health systems.

The standard influences my organization since it enhances interoperability and makes better patient-centered decisions in care provision. For one, HL7 is the foundation of EHR implying that it can help organizations stream data not just within departments but the entire organization and other healthcare systems. Imperatively, HL7 is a vital aspect of making better decisions and sharing patient health information among the various providers within the facility.

Standard for Improvement

Built on HL7, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is a standard that needs improvement because it functions. The standard offers a set of HTTP-based RESTful APIs to enable providers to share information or data in XML and JSON formats. While the standard offers data on different aspects of patients like demographics and medications as well as care plans and allergies, it is only set to work in a single setting, implying that it cannot attain increased interoperability and be used at the national level throughout the healthcare system (AHRQ, 2019). This standard should be improved to ensure that it has significant levels of interoperability across disparate health systems.

The FHIR is based on HL7, implying that it can be improved to have capabilities and attributes similar to HL7. As such, a suggested improvement is making it easy to read and use in different settings and increasing its ability to share health information among different entities. When integrated, the standard has resources that can yield varied clinical and administrative workflows. However, these can only be attained when the standard is improved to the best level.

Conclusion

Health information technology (HIT) standards are a vital component of effective delivery of quality care. These standards enhance interoperability among other critical benefits not just to providers and healthcare organizations and systems but also patients, their families, and health populations. As such, these standards like HL7 and FHIR are vital to the overall care delivery since they help providers make better decisions when developing plans of care.

References

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (2019). Health Information Technology

            Integration. https://www.ahrq.gov/ncepcr/tools/health-it/index.html

Claxton, G., Cox, C., Gonzalez, S., Kamal, R., & Levvitt, L. (2019, August 21). Measuring the

quality of healthcare in the U.S. Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker. https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/brief/measuring-the-quality-of-healthcare-in-the-u-s/

Jen. M. Y., Kerndt, C.C. & Korvek, S. J. (2022). Health Information Technology. StatPearls

            [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470186/

Keshta, I., & Odeh, A. (2021). Security and privacy of electronic health records: Concerns and

challenges. Egyptian Informatics Journal, 22(2), 177-183. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eij.2020.07.003

Official Website of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

(ONC) (2023). Standards and Technology. https://www.healthit.gov/topic/interoperability/standards-and-technology

Sutton, R. T., Pincock, D., Baumgart, D. C., Sadowski, D. C., Fedorak, R. N., & Kroeker, K. I.

(2020). An overview of clinical decision support systems: benefits, risks, and strategies for success. NPJ digital medicine, 3(1), 17. DOI: 10.1038/s41746-020-0221-y.

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The purpose of this assignment is to discuss the importance of health information technology (HIT) standards in the delivery of health care in the United States. Write a paper summarizing the following criteria:

Discuss the top five reasons that standards are vital in the U.S. health care system.

Choose one of the most vital HIT standards for your current or previous organization. Evaluate how the standard influences the organization. Some examples of HIT standards are: FHIR, HL7, IHE, C-CDA, QRDA, and HQFM. Refer to HealthIT.gov/Health IT Standards for more information.

Choose a standard you believe needs improvement. Discuss the effect of the standard and propose a solution for its improvement.

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